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Tribal Business School: Lessons in Business Survival and Success from the Ultimate Survivors

Tribal Business School: Lessons in Business Survival and Success from the Ultimate Survivors

Jo Owen

ISBN: 978-1-119-20638-5 January 2016 Jossey-Bass 144 Pages


If you want to learn about survival and success, learn from people who have survived hundreds of years in the most hostile environments in the world. The indigenous people of the world cannot afford the modern corporate luxuries of complexity and confusion. For them, the penalty of failure is not to miss a bonus, the penalty is often death.

Once you strip away all of the corporate life support systems of HR, IT, Legal, Help Desks and manuals you discover the real rules of leading for survival and success, you discover the heart of management.

From his extensive research with tribes around the world, Jo Owen gives us insights in to the rules of success, survival and leadership, accompanied by colourful photographs.  Tribal Business School reveals the lessons of survival and success from traditional societies and shows how business can profit from rediscovering the essence of leadership and the basics of what makes some organisations survive and others fail. Structured around seven simple lessons, with one tribe representing one lesson, this book is a rare combination of credible and highly topical - forget the high-brow theory; this is the ultimate primer in business survival.


1. Strategy and Competition.

Kill or cooperate.

2. Change.

Change or die.

3. Leadership.

Respect, responsibility, courage and contribution.

Leadership in traditional societies.

Leadership as a contact sport.

How to avoid messing up as a leader.

4. Learning to Lead.

Role models and the role of books and courses.

5. Skills and Knowledge.

From “know what” to “know how”: tacit versus explicit knowledge.

6. Information Management.

Trust the messenger not the message, and never trust a spreadsheet.

7. Culture and Values.

Respect for the community: social versus economic capital.

Anthropology at your desk: discover your tribe’s culture.

Tribal versus corporate culture: three tests.

8. Control and Systems.

The lore and the law.

Control and compliance.

9. Survival and Success.

A journey to the dark side of the tribe.

The social costs of the tribe.

The struggle for economic success.

10. From Bush to Boardroom.

Putting bush craft into practice.

About the Book and Acknowledgements.


“This is an entertaining read with many striking photos – altogether, good food for thought.” (People Management, Thursday 17th April 2008)
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